Monthly Archives: December 2014

7th & 8th Grade Winners, Homeschool Writing Contest 2014

Writing Contest Winners 2014 — 7th and 8th Grades

Congratulations to the following 7th and 8th grade winners of the “PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!!

1st Place: Kayla, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 8 from Aurora, Illinois for the story entitled “Skye’s Star”.  Kayla’s wonderful winning story is reprinted below.

2nd Place: Becky, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 8 from Norristown, PA, for the story entitled “My Guardian Angel”.

3rd Place: Chloe, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 8 from Fredericksburg, VA, for the story entitled “No Way Out”.

The winners have been notified and will be receiving their prizes from the sponsors shortly.

Special thanks to all the students who participated!  You did a fantastic job!  We can tell that you all worked very hard.  I hope to host more writing contests in the future.  Please try again!

Special thanks to the following Sponsors who helped make this contest possible:

Special thanks also to the panel of judges who worked to select the winners:

  • Marlene Bagnull
  • Pam Halter
  • Michelle Lofton
  • Rosario Cintron
  • Julia Melone &
  • Kay Ben-Avraham

As promised, following is a reprint of Kayla’s fantastic winning story:

“Skye’s Star”

     Skye looked around but realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  She was trapped!  She turned her head to the side, her cheek touching the cold floor, trying to see where she was, but a searing pain stopped her.  Her head hurt so badly, as well as her legs, but she couldn’t even remember what had happened.  She remembered some things:  the basement, the cold, Pieter sneaking down to see her.  Then bright lights and loud noises, and so much screaming.  Then everything started collapsing.  Everything began falling apart because …

     “Bombs.”  Skye whispered to herself as the realization hit her.  Bombs did this.

     She started to move.  She needed out.  She needed to find Pieter, to find her brothers.  She sat up carefully and brushed dust from her arms.  Something warm and sticky trickled down the back of her neck and into her night-gown.  Her eyes misted over for a moment as dizziness overtook her.  She was bleeding from her head, and by the feel of it, she was losing a lot of blood.

     As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she could see the outline of things around her.  Above her was a black mass of broken wood and darkness.  She carefully leaned forward, feeling for her legs, but all her fingers felt was the smoothness of wood.  Panic overtook her as she realized her legs were being crushed by a large cabinet.  No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t push it off.  It hurt.  It hurt more than anything she’d ever felt.  If she got out of this, would anyone be able to fix her legs?

     Tears sprung from her yes and rolled down her cheeks and neck.  She knew the answer to her question.  Her legs were damaged beyond repair.  She knew her legs were done, but she wouldn’t admit it to herself.

     As the pain and sorrow hit her, Skye screamed.  Ugly, choking screams.  She didn’t care who heard her, if anyone could.  She screamed for Pieter, her best friend.  He was the boy who hid her from the Nazis.  He was the one who comforted her when the dreams about her parents came.  He was the one who protected her.  He was a silly fifteen-year-old boy, and where was he now?  Buried beneath the wreckage of his house or possibly even dead.  All because he had snuck down to the basement to keep a fourteen-year-old girl company.

     She pushed the thought from her mind.  Pieter might not be dead.  She had to hold on to the small sliver of hope that he was alive.  That they would both make it out of this alive.

     As she inhaled to call for help again, she choked.  She could feel the dust in the air lodging in her throat every time she drew a breath.  She coughed even harder than she had when she’d been sick last year.  When she opened her mouth to cough again, she leaned over to the side, and instead of coughing, threw up.  She vomited until everything she’d eaten the day before reappeared.

     Skye laid back.  She wasn’t going anywhere.  She could feel her heart beating faster every second.  Blood was still seeping from her head and she was having trouble breathing.  She knew she had to relax.  As she lay in a puddle of her own blood, she thought of her brothers Tommy, Rudy, and Isaac.  She didn’t know where they were or even if they were alive, but somehow, picturing their faces in her mind made her feel calm.

     She thought about Hitler and how Germany wouldn’t be crumbling right now if it weren’t for him.  She thought about his hatred for Jews, and for people who had brown hair and brown eyes.  Hair and eyes like her own.  Hair and eyes like his own.  That sudden thought made her want to laugh.

     Searching her mind for something to think about, Skye suddenly remembered her book.  The night before, Pieter had asked her about her book of letters.  Over the last five years, she’d written hundreds of letters to God, her mama and papa, and Pieter, filling the blank book her mama had given her before sending her and her brothers to Pieter’s mama.

     She thought back to where the book had been.  If she was still in the same place she’d been standing last night, her book was probably somewhere off to her left.  She sat up again, ignoring the pain and dizziness, and reached out to start moving pieces of the collapsed house.  She moved as much as she could, but with her legs pinned under the cabinet, she couldn’t reach far.  After a few minutes of searching, she gave up and started to pull back to lay down again.  As she did, her eyes focused on a bright shape buried under splintered wood and dirt.  It was her star — the one that had been sewn into her clothes before coming here.  The one that  Pieter was supposed to burn when she had arrived, but he had saved it and hidden it.

     Coughing and breathing with great difficulty, she reached out to grab it.  Her fingers wrapped around it, and she pulled it close to her, holding it to her heart.  She could feel her heartbeat.  It was slow, but she wasn’t worried.  Not anymore.  She laid down again, closed her eyes, and smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek.

     “I love you.”  She whispered, sending her words out to everyone she’d ever loved: Mama, Papa, Pieter, her brothers, Pieter’s siblings and his parents.  She loved them all.

     As she took her last breath, she knew her fight was over.  She knew the people she left behind would hurt, and she hurt for them.  But she also knew that every time they smiled they would smile a little brighter than everyone else.  The saddest people always do.  They shine like all the stars in the sky.

THE END

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 23rd, 2014

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5th & 6th Grade Winners, Homeschool Writing Contest 2014

Writing Contest Winners 2014 — 5th and 6th Grades

Congratulations to the following 5th and 6th grade winners of the “PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!!

1st Place: Kareem, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 6 from Norristown, PA for the story entitled “The Provider”.  Kareem’s wonderful winning story is reprinted below.

2nd Place: Jacob, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 6 from Newtown, PA, for the story entitled “The Most Amazing Adventure of Larry Hudson”.

3rd Place: Angeline, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 5 from Philadelphia, PA, for the story entitled “A Crumby Quandary”.

The winners have been notified and will be receiving their prizes from the sponsors shortly.

Special thanks to all the students who participated!  You did a fantastic job!  We can tell that you all worked very hard.  I hope to host more writing contests in the future.  Please try again!

Special thanks to the following Sponsors who helped make this contest possible:

Special thanks also to the panel of judges who worked to select the winners:

  • Marlene Bagnull
  • Pam Halter
  • Michelle Lofton
  • Rosario Cintron
  • Julia Melone &
  • Kay Ben-Avraham

As promised, following is a reprint of Kareem’s fantastic winning story:

“The Provider”

Hutzu looked around, but realized with a sudden dread, there was no way out.  He was trapped!  While he was working to build a massive pyramid, there was an earthquake.  The pyramid walls collapsed and Hutzu was separated from his group!  He could not see anything, not even his hands in front of his face.  The distinct smell of mummified bodies filled the air.  Just the thought of mummies made his skin crawl.

Hutzu lived in the plentiful country of Egypt in 1527 BC.  He was an Israelite slave, but a prudent and determined worker.  The Egyptians had the best of everything; top-notch clothes, food, and crops, yet Hutzu and his family’s belonging were shoddy and old, but they never complained.  They believed that the world they lived in as slaves and pyramid builders would eventually pass away, and they lived with an eternal hope.  Their hope did not come from money or jewelry, but rested in the one true God, the Alpha and Omega.

While trapped in the pyramid fear took over Hutzu’s heart, but in that moment he remembered to call out to God.  “Lord, show me your light.  I trust you alone to provide a path out of this darkness,” he silently prayed.  Hutzu waited patiently for the Lord’s answer.  Suddenly, a light appeared that filled the entire pyramid.  All of the stars in the universe combined could not match this pure brightness.  Then a voice louder than thunder, but still, calm, and smooth roared,  “Hutzu, because of your unbreakable faith that I will provide, I will lead you out of this darkness!”

Hutzu was amazed.  He followed the light as it guided him through the dangerous pyramid that was filled with deadly traps.  During this journey Hutzu saw multiple paths and became curious.  “Where do these paths lead?” he asked God.  “They all lead to destruction, but the path to which I lead you will lead to life!” answered God. Hutzu was extremely thankful that the Lord was there to guide him.  Although there were countless paths, it seemed as if the light kept moving forward.  Hutzu saw snakes, spiders, and rats, but he did not worry because he was with the Creator of these creatures.  The dread he had once felt scrambled away like birds that were startled by a gun shot.

Hutzu had been in the pyramid for over twelve hours, but he did not notice.  The presence of God was so satisfying.  The wonderful presence of God filled Hutzu’s heart with wisdom, love, patience, and kindness.  It was an incredible feeling, and he did not want it to go away.  Yet he had to continue along the path.  Further along the road was a tiny light ahead.  The loud voice of God boomed, “Follow that light my son, that is your exit!” Hutzu obeyed and exited the pyramid safely.  “All praise is to God the King of my soul; he has been my faithful provider all this time!” he yelled.  Hutzu dashed to his village; he told the people of Israel of his epic adventure with God.  All that heard the story were left in disbelief, except Hutzu’s friends, Miriam and Aaron.  They were righteous people who believed in the miracles of God.  After hearing the wonderful news Hutzu had shared, they explained to Hutzu and his family another miracle that was going to happen.  Their brother Moses, who was born an Israelite slave but raised as an Egyptian prince, returned to Egypt to lead his people, the Israelites to freedom.  God would cast ten terrible plagues upon Egypt because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness not to let the Israelites free.  After the tenth plague (when the first-born of every Egyptian household died) Pharaoh wold agree to let the Israelites free.  All of these events came to pass and all the Israelites were set free.  Hutzu and his family lived happily ever after, trusting God to be their ultimate provider.

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 20th, 2014

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3rd & 4th Grade Winners, Homeschool Writing Contest 2014

Writing Contest Winners 2014 — 3rd and 4th Grades

Congratulations to the following 3rd and 4th grade winners of the “PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!!

1st Place: Vivian, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 3 from Lansdale, PA for the story entitled “Shelter Troubles”.  Vivian’s wonderful winning story is reprinted below.

2nd Place: Charlotte, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 4 from Thomasville, NC, for the story entitled “Grapple the Cat and Evil Catsten”.

3rd Place: Isabella, a traditional homeschooler in Grade 4 from Coppell, TX, for the story entitled “A Wonderful Secret”.

The winners have been notified and will be receiving their prizes from the sponsors shortly.

Special thanks to all the students who participated!  You did a fantastic job!  We can tell that you all worked very hard.  I hope to host more writing contests in the future.  Please try again!

Special thanks to the following Sponsors who helped make this contest possible:

Special thanks also to the panel of judges who worked to select the winners:

  • Marlene Bagnull
  • Pam Halter
  • Michelle Lofton
  • Rosario Cintron
  • Julia Melone &
  • Kay Ben-Avraham

As promised, following is a reprint of Vivian’s fantastic winning story:

“Shelter Troubles”

     I looked around, but I realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  I was trapped!

     You see, it all started out when I was hunting in the woods one day.  It was my morning meal, and I was hungry.  It was snowing; birds were scarce.  I was looking for bugs or possibly a nest with chicks in it, but the only things I found were a few measly flies and millipedes.  Of course, it would hold me off for the morning.  I don’t have a big appetite; I can hunt fairly well without getting too skinny.  I have claws like needles and teeth like daggers — I am a wildcat.

     You might be wondering how I was raised.  Both my mother and my father were wildcats, but my father died right after my birth.  Yes, I do have siblings, but I do not need to mention their names right now.

     For a bed, my mother scraped leaves into a large, flattish pile on the ground, usually under a tree.  Dead leaves that had fallen from the trees were best for making beds like these, but they were not always available.  When we were old enough she taught us how to make these beds and how to hunt.  But she wasn’t like other mothers and widows that would be house pets.  She was tough.  She did mourn over my father’s death, but not for very long.

     Like I was saying before, the day was gloomy.  Everywhere I looked I saw white, white, and more white.  I learned to not mind walking through snow, rain, and dew.  All wildcats learned to do that.  I jumped onto a branch on a tree and climbed up.  I peeked into a bird’s nest, but it was empty.  I sighed.  Then I leaped down and sat in the snow.  Little did I know what was ahead of me and that it would change my life forever.

     As I trudged though the cold snow, I felt the presence of another creature behind me.  A car had driven up and screeched to a halt at the corner.  No cars ever drove in the winter time!  The streets were sheathed in ice.  As I sat wondering about this,  I felt arms grab me.

     I was shoved into a cage and driven away in the car.  Never had I experienced this before!  I clawed at my cage, meowing, but no one let me out.  I looked around, but I realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  I was trapped!

     Soon the car stopped at a big shelter.  I could hear dogs barking and parakeets screeching as someone brought me into the shelter.  I was put into a different cage, one that was clear plastic.

     I was scared.  I didn’t know where I was.  Hours went by as I sat in my small cage.  There were two dogs next to me, barking and howling their heads off.  I tried asking them where I was.

     “Hey, you dog, over here!” I said.  The dog turned his head toward me.

     “What do you want?” the dog asked.

     “I want to know where I am!” I hissed.

     “Oh, you’re in a pet shelter.  People come and take you home.”

     “People?” I wondered aloud.  I didn’t know much about people.  But before the dog could explain to me why people were going to take me away, the lights were switched off.  I heard a bell ring and the sound of keys locking something.  I was locked in the shelter at night!

     I freaked out.  No one was going to bring me out of here!  I was stuck for a whole night with only little nuggets as food.  Did they expect me to eat these?  They didn’t have meat in them!  They were hard and unappetizing things.  I would rather starve than eat these!

     Soon all the barking ceased.  The tweeting and screeching stopped.  Everyone one was asleep!  How I longed for one of those colorful parakeets right across from my cage!  I soon found myself getting quite drowsy.  I yawned and fell asleep on my hard little carpet that was at the bottom of my cage.

     The next morning the whole shelter was alive again.  People swarmed the shelter.  Some people bought fish and parakeets, and occasionally a cat or a dog.  No one wanted me.  I wondered if it was because of the little sign that was stuck on my cage.  I soon found what it meant.

     A little kid and his mom came up to me.  The little kid pointed to me.  The mom read the sign aloud.  “Not up for adoption.  This cat is not neutered.”  She led the kid away from me.

     After a few days of waiting patiently in my cage, I was taken out of it and driven to a veterinary clinic.  They brought me in and set me on a while little desk.  The entire room was white!  There were scary machines all around.  It had a funny smell.  I was getting nervous.  So just as a vet walked in, off I zoomed!

     I leaped off the counter, skidded out the door, and stopped when I saw pets and people everywhere.  I ran down the stairs, under people’s legs, until I was at the bottom floor of the clinic.  I looked around frantically.  Where should I go? What should I do?  I spotted a door that led to outside. I crouched down and ran under the chairs that people were waiting in.  There were screams, and just as a person opened the door, I was out!

     I was free!  I am now more careful around cars and I rarely interact with people anymore.  Yes, sometimes I have to move from bed to bed, and yes, sometimes I have a struggle finding food, but for the most part, being a wildcat is better than being a house cat!

I am a wild cat, and the first cat ever to escape a visit to the vet!

Posted by Gwen Fredette on December 12th, 2014

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